Film: Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Catherine Keener, Elijah Rodriguez, Matthew Modine
Director: Stefano Sollima
Rating: * * * *
A sliver of black humour does little to dissipate the gloom of this grim and violent sequel to the critically acclaimed commercially successful 2015 film Sicario (Spanish for assassin). Drugs drove the narrative of the original film, this time around it is human trafficking on the US-Mexico border that propels protagonists and antagonists into undesirable actions.
Re-teaming with bereaved lawyer turned the titular hit-man Alejandro Gilick (Benicio del Toro) Machiavellian federal agent Matt Graver Josh Brolin manipulates a turf war between rival syndicates. The crime cartels in this apathetic world have access to high tech weaponry including missiles which are used to pulverise a convoy of Humvees. We cringe as the too few survivors resort to self-surgery et al in gory close-ups.
Horrific are the wounds sustained in the blood-soaked climactic scene by anti-hero Alejandro at the hands of a teenage sicario-in-progress, Miguel (Elijah Rodriguez) who is a product of the ugly adults who “train” the young into reprehensible behaviour. This character will undoubtedly play a key role in the next instalment.
In this movie, the embittered Alejandro retains enough of his humanity to desist from seeking all-out revenge against the abducted progeny of the killer drug lord (Carlos Reyes) of his family. Said progeny is a pugnacious schoolgirl named Isabel (performed pitch perfect by Isabela Moner.) Such a terrific actress for one so young and kudos to the director Stefano Sollima for bringing out the best.
Del Toro oozes sex appeal in his tough guy role. It would be good if he was cast in a mushy romantic part. I’m sure he would acquit himself as competently as helmer Sollima and Taylor Sheridan, whose script takes interesting turns just like the twisted minds of the characters and the rugged landscapes which have been beautifully captured on camera. And oh, Mexico city is modish too.